Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Explanation: making a statement in relation to an event, a state, a change or an action that was described before by a deviating statement. The statement will often try to involve circumstances, history, logical premises, causes and causality. See also description, statements, theories, understanding, literal truth, best explanation, causality, cause, completeness.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data
I 50
Explanation/Chalmers: a good explanation is often one that covers many cases. Problem: whether the individual case is satisfied.
Solution: in biological phenomena it is often the case that similar cases have a related background.
I 84
Explanation/Explication/Chalmers/(s): Chalmers distinguishes between explication and explanation. The latter is used in the context of reduction as a reductive explanation, e.g., of phenomenal properties, while he reserves explication for conceptual explanations.
E.g. The property of being Rolf Harris does not constitute a phenomenon that needs an explanation, as opposed to an explication.
I 121
Explanation/Consciousness/Chalmers: even if we refined our explanations more and more, they would only provide more refined explanations of cognitive functions, but not explanations of our conscious experience.
I 122
The existence of consciousness will always be an additional fact to our structural and dynamic facts.
But we do not have to give up any explanation of consciousness. We just have to say goodbye to the idea that this explanation should be reductive.
I 177
Explanation/Consciousness/Paradoxy/Chalmers: Problem: Consciousness cannot be explained reductively, judgments about consciousness and phenomenal judgments (about experiences) must be explained, however, because they are in the field of psychology.
Paradoxically, consciousness is ultimately irrelevant to the explanation of phenomenal judgments. (Avshalom Elitzur (1989), Roger Shepard (Psychologist, 1993).
I 178
Solution/Chalmers: the content of my experiences cannot be explained reductively.
Problem: if we treat the judgments ("experience reports") of the zombies deflationistically ((s) as simple quotes), they can be explained reductively.
Solution: it is often possible to use higher-level properties in order to make lower-level properties superfluous (e.g. molecular motion instead of heat).
Problem: the higher-level properties are still logically supervenient on the physical. That is, when an action is explained neurophysiologically, this does not render the appeal to memory (as a phenomenal property) irrelevant.
I 179
This relevance is inherited by the logical supervenience.
For example, if a single man has a need for female accompaniment, which is explained by the fact that he is male and unmarried, that does not make the fact that he is a bachelor irrelevant. In general, if two sets of properties are conceptually connected, an explanation in terms of the one set does not render the existence of an explanation in terms of the other set irrelevant.
Solution: in physical explanations: when logical supervenience is involved, there is no explanatory irrelevancy: a description of a higher level is logically related to one of a lower level.
Problem: the consciousness is not logically supervenient on the physical. There is therefore no conceptual dependence of the levels.
I 188
Explanation/Consciousness/Chalmers: unlike the explanation of religious belief, where the assumption of divine existence is demanded for the explanation of other phenomena, the explanation of consciousness is different: here consciousness is already given and does not have to be added for an assumption.
Consciousness is also not explained by judgments about conscious experience ("This is a red object").
I 191
Explanation/Consciousness/Chalmers: There are three ways to argue against the alleged irrelevancy of consciousness for the explanation of behavior.
I 192
1. The argument from the self-knowledge/Chalmers: we know that we have conscious experiences ourselves. But it is hard to argue with this.
Solution: if experiences were by explanation irrelevant, we could not know that we have some.
I 193
1. Argument from the Causal Theory of Knowledge: Problem: if experience is causally irrelevant, I cannot argue with it. Then I have no knowledge about my experiences. Shoemaker (1975) thus argues for a materialism of consciousness and for a reductive functionalism.
Zombie/Shoemaker: for Shoemaker Zombies are logically impossible.
Knowledge/Consciousness/Chalmers: a property dualist must argue that knowledge about conscious experiences is a different kind of knowledge than the knowledge about which one is talking about in the context of causation by objects.
I 194
Reliability Theory/Chalmers: is not appropriate in the case of our knowledge about ourselves. However, the phenomenal judgments of my zombie twins are not reliable.
Therefore, one could assume that reliability is a distinguishing feature between me and the zombie. But my self-knowledge about consciousness is of a different kind: it is reflected.
We are sure that we have a consciousness, which can be doubted at most "philosophically".
I 195
Reliability/Chalmers: where is reliability missing? E.g. in situations like those of the brains in a vat. Such examples do not endanger our certainty that we have an awareness since there is no causality involved.
I 196
Our approach to our consciousness is quite direct, it is not mediated.
I 197
Uncorrigibility/Chalmers: uncorrigibility is not meant with this direct access!
I 198
Causation/Consciousness/Chalmers: we do not need any causality to explain our conscious experiences: our knowledge of this is based on a much more direct relationship. It's about how I know about it, not how my brain knows about it, so it's not about a physical relation.
Problem: beliefs could also form without experiences.
ChalmersVsVs: but then I have certainty about my beliefs.
Zombie: would say exactly the same.
I 199
ChalmersVsVs: Of course, from a third-person perspective, we do not know whether others have a consciousness (conscious experiences) anyway. But we know it from ourselves.
Beliefs/Zombies: in the end, the zombie could have the same beliefs as I do.
ChalmersVsVs: yes, but the evidence for my beliefs is much simpler: it is the experiences. They are the primary.
Deflationist/inflationist/Chalmers: our argumentation is here deflationary anyway, i.e. about the purely functional role of beliefs - inflationistically, beliefs themselves would be a part of the phenomenal experience.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Cha I
The Conscious Mind Oxford New York 1996

Cha II
D. Chalmers
Constructing the World Oxford 2014

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2018-06-24